posted by Alan Greenblatt
The Albuquerque Journal ran a story the other day that won't help Bill Richardson's presidential aspirations any. The story gives what must be the fullest account on record of the New Mexico governor's proclivities for touching people in ways some might deem inappropriate.
"He pokes me," Lt. Gov. Diane Denish told the paper. She was referring specifically to a public event at which Richardson reached his hand behind her chair and poked at the side of her leg repeatedly for a period of several minutes. "He pinches my neck," Denish said. "He touches my hip, my thigh, sort of the side of my leg."
Denish's chief of staff later told the Santa Fe New Mexican that "she thinks the quotes were out of context." While not denying their accuracy, the aide said Denish thought the Journal story made Richardson's behavior sound more troubling than it actually is.
But Denish is not alone in receiving Richardson's physical attentions. The Journal reports that Richardson once greeted a reporter with a headbutt and, "surprising a group of teenage girls at an event in Albuquerque... he pulled the junior high stunt of buckling their knees from behind."
Pahl Shipley, Richardson's communications director, says that Richardson's frequent touches--the governor likes to lick his finger and smudge Shipley's glasses with saliva--are "almost like a sign of approval." But Denish warned a staff member who used to be the governor's communications director that Richardson's antics could make him look bad.
"I guess that's what I get for being friendly," Richardson told the Journal.